As head injuries and CTE have been thrust to the forefront of the NFL, Class of 2017 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Terrell Davis expressed concern about his future health.
“I can’t lie, we’re all scared,” Davis told the Denver Post on Friday. “We’re concerned because we don’t know what the future holds. When I’m at home and I do something, if I forget something I have to stop to think, ‘Is this because I’m getting older or I’m just not using my brain, or is this an effect of playing football? I don’t know that.”
Davis built a banner career as a running back with the Denver Broncos from 1995-2001, an era in which the effects of head trauma were not as widely discussed and explored. Rules changes and a concussion policy have since been implemented in the NFL.
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on July 25 said CTE was diagnosed in 110 of 111 former NFL players whose brains were donated for research. The study was conducted by researchers at Boston University and the VA Boston Healthcare System.
“Yeah, I’m scared, so I try to stay as active as possible, keep my mind as sharp as possible," Davis told the Post. "But I also know the game has gone through great lengths to change, from Pop Warner to the pros.”
Davis said he would let his children play football now.
“People ask me the question, would you let your kids play? Yeah, I would. Now, 10 years ago I may have said something different. But now, the way they’re teaching kids to tackle, the fact that they identify concussions a lot faster, they sit you out a couple plays, you’re not going to practice as long. All that stuff is helping the game of football. But, yes, I’m concerned.”
The 44-year-old began his NFL career at 23 and retired during the preseason in 2002 when he was 29. He is the Broncos' all-time rushing leader with 7,607 yards, and he also had 65 total touchdowns in his career.
But it didn’t come without pain. Davis recalled being put back into Super Bowl XXXII — a game that earned him MVP honors — after dealing with a migraine so bad he couldn’t see.
“I think about that moment a lot because if they had the rules in place then, I don’t go back into that game,” Davis said. “And that changes a lot. Am I here, at this podium? Thank God it didn’t happen like that.”